Careers: "SOAS gave me a uniquely international perspective which shaped my life"
Mohammed Subhan Hussain (Sheikh) is an alumnus of SOAS Law. He is currently a PhD Candidate in Law at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS), University of London, specialising in Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs) in England & Wales. He is also a Bar Course candidate, having attained an Exhibition Scholarship, Peta Fordham Scholarship, and Duke of Edinburgh Entrance Award from the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple.
As a Research Assistant for a barrister, Subhan assists in the editing of a range of chapters for legal referencing guides, focused primarily on financial services regulation in relation to the acquisition of banks. Subhan has also gained considerable experience working in commercial litigation law firms, gaining experience in, and advising on cases relating to civil fraud; sanctions; insurance; and mergers & acquisitions.
We asked Subhan a few questions about his time at SOAS and his career journey so far.
Could you give us a brief overview of your current role and what you do on a day-to-day basis?
My current role sees me assist solicitors in legal research and drafting, which can be both procedural and substantive in nature, depending on the case requirements. I also participate actively in conferences with clients as part of a team. I initially gained experience in civil fraud and sanctions cases in relation to the current war in Ukraine. I was then fortunate to broaden the breadth of my experiences to areas such as insurance and mergers & acquisitions, with a view to developing my interests in other commercial areas of law as well. My current role allows me to develop the necessary written advocacy skills critical for a legal professional.
What motivates you in your role?
Two key things motivate me in my role: the opportunity to gain experience in cases with a comparative component; and further developing my written and oral advocacy skills.
Firstly, I have gained experience in cases involving an international component by way of the legal or factual dynamics of the case. Having this exposure has allowed me to appreciate foreign legal systems and become an eclectic legal professional by understanding and addressing the jurisdictional challenges that a legal case may pose.
Secondly, managing clients' expectations while working on a case allows me to strive. This is a crucial skill for a legal professional, as the ability to communicate effectively is quintessential for clarity. Being actively involved in drafting client letters, notes of guidance and litigation court forms and participating in client conferences has motivated me to continue developing my written and oral advocacy skills.
Why did you choose to study at SOAS?
The SOAS LLB curriculum is comparative and substantive in nature, and this is what swayed me to attend SOAS. I found that modules were tailored to regions and the broad range of electives on offer gave me the flexibility to enjoy a comparative legal education. This has proven to be most useful in practice.
How do you feel that your studies at SOAS helped to prepare you for further studies and your professional roles?
My studies at SOAS helped shape me in two ways: by providing a stepping stone to pursue an interest in publishing legal literature; and enabling me to become a well-rounded legal professional.
I enjoyed the 'Legal Systems in Asia & Africa (LSAA)' module, and this shaped my desire to pursue my comparative interests out of SOAS. I was fortunate to publish my LSAA coursework. My work on 'History, Law and Vernacular Knowledge: The Threat to Women's Collective Representation Under the Guise of Androgyny in Pakistan' for the King's Student Law Review exposed me to the various complexities prevalent across the diverse legal landscapes of the international arena, and gave me the confidence to pursue independent research on violence against women in Pakistan.
I further explored my interest in South Asian Laws and Gender Rights by pursuing an advanced research degree, which I published as a book. The publication is titled, 'Crimes of Honour: Formal and Informal Adjudicatory Systems in India and Pakistan to Enforce and Contest Honour Crimes'. I was inspired to continue developing the interests I established at SOAS, and this research allowed me to engage with formal and informal justice mechanisms in India and Pakistan in depth. Had I not attended SOAS, I would not have explored the advancement of women's rights in South Asia.
I am interested in utilising my comparative interests to advance my academic research and shape how my practice develops. This has made me a well-rounded legal professional and, most importantly, an individual who can balance personal and practical endeavours. SOAS has facilitated this greatly and has truly given me a broader perspective on life.
What did you enjoy the most about studying at SOAS? Do you have a particular favourite memory?
I enjoyed engaging with and being mentored by active and retired (emeritus) staff. I could easily approach an academic member of staff and be given guidance. I was fortunate to make great friends, and I have remained in touch with them. One of my favourite memories is attending a cricket match in SOAS. This was great fun and a unique thing to see happening on campus.
What one piece of career advice do you wish you’d had when you were at university?
It is important to avoid becoming completely absorbed in the qualification you are studying for. The need to explore career opportunities from the start of your degree, even if you are unsure what you wish to do after graduating, is very important. Reaching out to professionals will allow you to understand the practicalities of the career you have in mind whilst also building valuable connections along the way.